Home of the yacht "RHUMB DO"



The Boat


First Mate

Photo Album

Route Map


Just for fun





November 2006


1/11/06   Early morning weather forecast for Easterly force 8 prompted radio discussion with Darren, who  was now two miles off my port side, about altering course and heading for La Coruna instead of our intended destination of Bayona. We altered course to port – and with hindsight – a wrong decision.   The predicted east wind came early and by lunchtime we were in strong F7 and finding it difficult to make any eastward progress to maintain a reasonable course for La Coruna.  We reefed down both mainsail and headsail to minimum as the seas increased in ferocity, and arrived about 20 miles off La Coruna around 2300 in a full F9/10 gale.  We were taking almost every wave into the cockpit and the saloon was flooded – the noise was incredible during this time, the seas were crashing, halliards were banging and the shrieking wind was unbelievable.  I was at the point of exhaustion after lowering all sail and trying to make out leading lights with eyes stinging from the constant incoming waves, both Dee and I were soaked to the skin despite wearing full foulies, and were standing knee deep in water in the cockpit.  Funny how you remember strange things at these times.....the water was lovely and warm one moment, and the next incoming wave was freezing!!   Suddenly, we lost both radio and visual contact with Sentito, and worse…..our instruments all went blank!!   This is when you discover that adrenalin is a brown colour!!  There was only one option, and I needed to rest, so I unfurled the bare minimum headsail, turned the boat out to sea and guestimated a course of 235 degrees, briefed Dee that we should clear any headlands, rocks and shoreline, told her not to hit any ships which may be about – and went to bed for a couple of hours.    Click here for photo

2/11/06   On watch again before 5am, seas still rolling us all over the place and the troughs between rollers estimated to be around 50-60 feet deep as we passed Cape Finisterre, known as the Cape of Death because of all the ships lost here.   Repaired the instruments and discovered that the maximum windspeed recorded before they packed up was 60+ knots!!  This sort of weather is scary and certainly wasn't in the brochure when we signed on for this trip.  However, by lunchtime the sea had calmed to almost millpond condition, the sun was out and we made slow progress along the Spanish coast, lunching in the cockpit and laughing at the antics of the dolphins.  We were still unable to contact Sentito and made the assumption that they had made it safely into La Coruna.  The wind had died to almost nothing and we motored toward Bayona, but the engine wasn’t  revving as it should and we could only manage 3-4 knots, we suspect that the fuel filter had sucked in sludge from the bottom of the tank during the storm but delayed any repair until we were alongside in port.   We arrived in Bayona around 0115 on the 3rd and fell into bed for well earned sleep.  Bayona is the reputed first landfall of Christopher Columbus on his return from finding the New World, and a replica of his ship the "Pinta" is moored in the harbour.

3/11/06   Everything onboard is in one of three states……damp, ..wet,.. or soaked!  Cleaned up and hung everything out to dry.  A telephone call from Ann in Gillingham,  and eventually another from Falmouth Coastguard, informing us that Sentito had activated their EPIRB after being dis-masted and Darren & Vicki had been airlifted from their stricken boat by Spanish helicopter, the boat being left to drift or sink, we don’t know?   Can’t stop thinking about them and tried several times to contact them or their family to ask of their well-being.  Falmouth Coastguard told us that 5 boats had been lost that night off La Coruna and also that a helicopter search for us had been carried out as a result of Darren & Vicki passing on information about the situation.   They also posted an information request on the YBW site, click here for a copy of same.  

4/11/06   Managed to contact Darren and Vicki, they are thankfully safe in a hotel in La Coruna,  - I haven't been able to stop thinking of them and miss their company.  They said they will catch the train down to Bayona and we set about finding them a hotel in which to stay.   It appears that the mast didn't come down but was making strange banging noises and the boat was lurching oddly, Darren suspecting that the keel was coming off.  Their EPIRB was activated and the helicopter pilot requested them to abandon the boat and be picked up from the water, leaving the boat to it's own devices in the tremendous seas.    See this report.       

5/11/06   Finished all our laundry, dived under the boat to inspect the propeller and keel - all seems OK.  Not heard anything from Darren & Vicki as of 3.30pm.  Glorious weather and now back in shorts or swim gear - good for November eh?? 

Late afternoon......Darren and Vicki turned up in a hire car....absolutely great to see them again and after settling them into the Hotel la Anunciada we adjourned to the bar to hear their story and have a meal.  Vicki's account here Both boat crews were contacted during this time by Paul Gelder, the editor of Yachting Monthly with a view to telling their story for the magazine and we all agreed to take a rain cheque on this one until insurance details were sorted out.    

6/11/06    Reports from Madrid authorities indicated that the EPIRB aboard Sentito was still giving out signals and position information.  We decided to put to sea, return to Finisterre and search the area, hoping to find Sentito and board her.  We re-fuelled and stocked up on provisions, the four of us sailing from Bayona in Rhumb Do at 2130hrs. However, some 10 miles out, further information from Madrid indicated that the EPIRB signals were being transmitted on 121mhz instead of the previously believed 406mhz........this had a huge impact on our search area, and Darren decided that a 200 sq. mile area, with a centre some 60 miles northwest of Cape Finisterre,  was just too big to search with any hope of success so we turned around and made back to Bayona, arriving after 1am.

Darren and Vicki stayed onboard Rhumb Do for the next couple of days before flying home on Thursday 9th November to start a search for a new boat in which to continue their cruising.  We had all come to the sad and reluctant conclusion that Sentito had gone down and the EPIRB had floated free of the boat.   We had a couple of beers onboard and ashore before they went, and both Dee and I  miss them already but hopefully we will see them again very soon.   Bayona photo's here.  

We spent the next couple of days drying out more clothes and fitting new windows around the saloon and forward cabin.  Received a phone call from Darren saying they were home safe, that it was cold and frosty in UK - and here were we dressed in shorts only (Ian), bikini (Dee) enjoying the hottest day so far!!  We plan to sail within the next day or so, and take on the West coast of Portugal.....not many places there to run in to, and all seriously hampered with onshore swells and sandbanks  across entrances.  Maybe we will just miss the lot and run down to the Algarve in one hit? 

12/11/06  Sunday...Remembrance Day.....slipped our moorings at 1600hrs and motored out of Bayona into a fairly heavy swell, the waves crashing in great spumes of spray on the rocks round the headland.  We knew this was only whilst we were 'inshore', so made out to deeper water and turned south, holding a course about 30 miles off the Spanish coast, and heading for Cascais in Portugal, with Leixoes as a bolthole should it be needed.  It was very strange  to look out and not see Sentito, with Darren & Vicki, sailing close by.   Dee took the first watch, allowing me to sleep until just after midnight.  There was little wind offshore and we motored into the night with the headsail up in a gentle southerly F2/3. It never fails to amaze me when looking up into the sky, just how many stars you can see when away from the glow of land lights, and I watched the Great Bear and Polaris keep their station dead astern.  Again we were accompanied by the ever present White Sided Atlantic Dolphins as they  left their phosphorescent trails - best described by John Beattie in his book, The Breath of Angels........"the sea was alive with electricity. It was glistening with phosphorescence.  The wake from the boat looked like a big, V-shaped neon sign. Each edge of the V was bright green with thousands of specks of brilliant light. Marine phosphorescence is caused by electrical reactions occurring around microscopic organisms.  The light emitted is similar to that produced by fireflies, but instead of one or two sources caused by individual flies, there is an abundance of tiny specks caused by tens of thousands of micro organisms.  In the right conditions, movement of any object through the water stimulates the reactions and produces the light.  If you reach over the side of the boat and trail your hand in the water, the specks of phosphorescence stretch behind it for four or five feet and linger in the sea.  The dolphins streaked towards the boat like underwater comets and surfaced beside the boat, the water rolling off their backs, and it was as if they were covered in stardust, with brilliant green specks of light clinging to their smooth, silky skins.  The comet trails of phosphorescence criss-crossed under the keel and made figures-of-eight at the bow.  No fireworks display in ancient China has ever compared with the spectacle of these dolphins in such a sea."

13/11/06  We passed Oporto and Leixoes unseen around 0500 and shortly afterward, the engine began to labour as it had on the way into Bayona.  I stripped the filter from the air intake and gave it a clean in diesel which cured the problem - must give it a thorough clean when next in port.  We continued on into the second night at sea.

14/11/06  Sighted the light at Peniche around 0600 and the wind picked up from the southeast. Stopped engine and hoisted mainsail, making about 5 knots on a course of 180 degrees and land disappearing astern again.  I noticed that the headsail is beginning to fray around the clew and that the leech tensioner had cracked - probably in Biscay, we will have to get that seen to when we find a sail maker.  In the late afternoon, we rounded the capes of Cabo Roca and Cabo Rosa and headed for the marina at Cascais, clearing customs etc and berthing at 1530.  There are several British boats here, all waiting for a weather window to sail south around Cabo De Sao Vicente, but we have already decided to make another stop at Sines, about 60 miles from here, before reaching the cape.  That evening, we treated ourselves to a superb meal in the appropriately named 'Latitude 38' restaurant, the food was second to none, the service and presentation excellent - equalling any top London restaurant, and I thoroughly recommend it to all visiting yotties.

16/11/06  With most jobs on the boat complete  (no sail maker), we decided to have a day away from the port and caught the train to Lisbon with Colin and Trish from "Moody Time" (they arrived in Cascais a few hours after us).  We did the usual tourist bits of visiting the Castelo de Sao Jorge and Lisbon Cathedral, and riding on a Lisbon tram through the extremely narrow streets, which made me laugh when I thought of the guys at work furiously putting down loads of 'shaved vehicle' crosses as the tram skimmed the folded in door mirrors of parked cars, with less than 6 inches of space.    Some photo's of Cascais and Lisbon here.

18/11/06  Very upset today after receiving news from UK that Monty, my cat, had died.  It is exactly 1 year, 1 month and 1 week since I had to have his brother Hooch put down.  They were almost identical Persian Blue Points and had been with me since 1996, although they were born in 1991.  My thanks to Ann for looking after him and spoiling him rotten since June.   In the evening, we considered going to Latitude 38 again, finally deciding that one visit there was a luxury but twice was extravagant!!

19/11/06   Slipped at 0900, we had wanted to go at 0600 but the office wasn't open for us to pay our berthing fees, or collect deposits left for electrical connection, hence the enforced 3 hour delay.  An un-eventful passage along the coast to Sines, birthplace of Vasco da Gama, arriving (in the dark!) at 2100.  No sooner had we cleared all the formalities in the office ashore when the GNR-Brigada Fiscal descended on the boat and wanted to go through all the ships papers again - so it was almost 11pm by the time we could see to the boat and get a meal - we trekked uphill into the small town (it was a steep hill) and found a little restaurant, the owners looked gob smacked when this dishevelled English pair walked in and asked if they were still serving food, as it was now almost midnight!!   Worries about the weather closing in caused some concern, and as this very small marina is largely unprotected, we decided to sail again in the morning.

20/11/06  Cleared the harbour by 0945 and again made a simple passage south along the west coast of Portugal, rounding Cabo De Sao Vicente about 2 miles off with no problems whatsoever.   Entered the narrow channel up to the marina at Lagos (again in the dark) and berthed alongside the reception pontoon at 2300 to await the office opening at 9am tomorrow.  Now in the Algarve......no more worries about the west coast of Portugal.

21/11/06   All formalities completed by 0915 and the bridge lifted to allow us access to the marina where we moored two boats away from Colin and Trish aboard Moody Time.  The marina seems full of British boats, mostly here for the winter whilst the crews go back and forth to the UK by air.......not sure I like this Brit Clique situation with it's DVD and book lending libraries, everyone knowing everyone else........ I would much rather be in a less crowded marina, and talk to locals, or different nationalities.    Another 'Warrior' is berthed on the same pontoon, no ensign, but I suspect she is British registered - she has a pale blue hull and is named "Questina II", she is the second one we have seen on our travels, the other being "Tipasa" in Camaret.

23/11/06   After a leisurely breakfast in "Lazy Jacks", we paid our dues and motored down river to the sea, hoisted all sail and had a pleasant 30 mile sail to Vilamoura, managing to make 8.3 knots along the way, and a novel daylight entry!!  Another crowded marina, but cheaper than Lagos and that much nearer to Gibraltar should we decide to go there.   Strong winds came up during the night as expected but we were secure in the berth with all halliards tied back, and slept peacefully.

30/11/06   After several phone calls, we have managed to get booked into Marina Bay in Gibraltar for the Christmas period, so with that in mind, we were up early to ready the boat for sea and slipped the mooring at 0515, motoring out to sea behind "Moody Time" with the intended destination of Chipiona in Spain.  Hoisted sail outside the harbour and set course to cross the Gulf of Cadiz.  The forecast we had seen the previous night promised F2/3 from the east with a slight sea swell.........we immediately had F4's with a choppy, short and uncomfortable sea - and right on the nose!!   At 1030, Colin on Moody Time radioed us and said they were returning to Vilamoura because of sea-sickness.  We altered course five degrees to starboard in order to take a slight advantage of the ESE wind,  and changed our destination to Rota, also considered the longer passage to Barbate which would give an even better angle of wind.  We put in a tack to get a better sailing angle, even though it added an extra thirty miles or so to the voyage.   Some two hours later, Dee also succumbed to nautical nausea and on my insistence, went below  to sleep it off.  


            Click Here for previous logs